Wednesday, June 30, 2010

QuantaSol Ltd Gears Up for Mass Production of Quantum Well Solar Cells

QuantaSol Ltd (Kingston-Upon-Thames, UK),  the independent designer and manufacturer of strain-balanced quantum-well solar cells, has undergone significant restructuring as it readies for volume manufacture.

In late 2009 Chris Shannon was appointed CEO, in a strategic move to drive the business forward. Chris brings with him more than 20 years of experience and an impressive track record in product marketing, product development to manufacturing, and international sales growth. Throughout his career Chris has proven an ability to lead the successful growth and commercialisation of start-up companies including roles at Ezurio and Queensgate Instruments.

Since his appointment, Shannon has overseen two new appointments to the QuantaSol management team. Ivor Thomas joins as Chief Financial Officer and brings extensive experience from within several UK listed technology companies. His role at QuantaSol will involve the introduction of financial and operational systems in preparation for rapid growth.

Also joining as VP of Engineering is Dr Gianluca Bacchin, whose previous positions include Product Development Director at Intense Ltd and Senior Researcher/Engineer at Corning OTI.

Dr Tom Tibbits has become Director of Product Marketing in a move from his previous role at QuantaSol as Product Engineering Director. Tom has been with QuantaSol since its outset, having been a protégé of Keith Barnham, QuantaSol’s Chief Scientific Officer, whilst studying at Imperial College. Keith is Emeritus Professor of Physics and Senior Research Investigator in the Physics Department at Imperial, and his research is at the core of QuantaSol’s technology. Dr Tibbits was also privileged to have spent a year at the Fraunhofer Institute of Solar Energy Systems, furthering developments in this exciting area.

In June last year, QuantaSol announced it had a single-junction device, which achieved a record breaking 28.3% efficiency at greater than 500 suns when independently tested by Fraunhofer ISE. Following continual development to achieve multi-junction cells at even higher efficiency, the newly restructured company is now driving toward volume production and a product launch is expected later this year.

QuantaSol is funded and backed by the Low Carbon Accelerator and Imperial Innovations, and its strain-balanced quantum-well solar cell (SB-QWSC) is believed to be the highest performing single-junction concentrator cell in the world with the potential to enhance multi-junction cells to record efficiencies very soon.

Today’s triple junction solar cells are the workhorse of a typical high concentration photovoltaic (HCPV) system. By splitting the solar spectrum into three colour ‘bands’, each sub-cell in a triple junction device can convert the band of the spectrum to which it is sensitive at the best efficiency – this has led to world record efficiencies of >40% as compared to ~25% for traditional Silicon based technology.

The materials used in today’s leading triple-junction cells (InGaP, InGaAs, and Ge) are not the optimum combination of materials to maximize the potential efficiency of a triple-junction solar cell. QuantaSol can further enhance the efficiency of a triple-junction solar cell by using its Quantum Well technology to adjust, or ‘tune’, the sub-cells of a triple junction cell. By doing this, efficiency increases are possible, since the cell can be tuned to absorb and convert more of the available light. Both triple-junction solar cells and optoelectronic devices containing quantum wells (for example, semiconductor LASERs) are technologies with a long heritage in both research and commercial production. QuantaSol is able to combine these two technologies to enhance the efficiency of today’s market leading multi-junction solar cells, maintaining reliability and at a competitive cost to the CPV market in manufacture.

Professor Barnham's research team at Imperial College has pioneered the application of nanostructures such as quantum wells and quantum dots for solar photovoltaics.

The intellectual property generated through his research has resulted in a number of patents for the use of quantum wells in concentrator cells, the use of stress-balanced quantum wells in photovoltaic cells (SB-QWSC) and quantum dot light concentration (QDC).

QuantaSol was formed in 2007 to commercialize the technology. It was quick to develop high efficiency single junction quantum well solar cells, and has now developed very high efficiency triple junction solar cells, enabling the market for this new, lower-cost renewable electricity generating technology.

Contacts and sources:
Tom Tibbits
Chris King / Eleanor Dobson

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